The Disadvantage of Being Too Caring

“You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.” ― Barbara De Angelis

A few weeks ago, I shared a PechaKucha style presentation on The Power of Love in the Workplace at DisruptHR in Vancouver. It was a WOW and memorable experience.

Since that presentation, I have found it challenging to completely stay on the love train.

My definition of loving in the workplace is to be caring, to listen, to be patient and understanding, and of course, to have empathy. We all know that it’s harder to express those feelings at work than at home. Hence, my desire to encourage others to #chooselove over fear, as staying in fear prevents us from sharing these human behaviours more frequently.

Recently, I found myself in a situation that is questioning my thoughts on the intentions of love.

Those who know me well will describe me as a caring person. I am highly inclusive and will express my feelings of love in every aspect of my life.

However, if I truly love and care for another individual, will that hold me back from sharing my true feelings and having Radical Candor, which Kim Scott defines as “the intersection of caring personally and challenging directly”?

This recent experience tested my loving nature. It was an opportunity for me to provide authentic feedback, or what we refer to at SPARK Creations, as having a courageous conversation. However, I held back after the individual’s response.

One of our most popular leadership and team communications learning session is on feedback – how to give and receive it. Ironically, when I was in a position to have this courageous conversation, I stayed in the Ruinous Empathy quadrant illustrated in The Axis of Candor diagram below. Watch Kim explain Radical Candor at a First Round Review presentation here.

Scott defines this quadrant as “high levels of caring, but low levels of directness”. In other words, staying in this quadrant means I may have a tendency to avoid difficult conversations or struggle with providing honest and frank feedback so I can prevent hurting the individual’s feelings.

The truth is, there are damaging implications of not providing Radical Candor.

Here are a few to start with but I’m sure there are more.

  1. Limiting the growth opportunities for the individual receiving the feedback.
  2. Creating resentment in the long run.
  3. Leaving me frustrated for not being authentic and truthful.
  4. Puts me in a shaky position for holding thoughts in that could eventually build up and come out when I least expect it.
  5. Minimizes the trust and bond I have created with the individual.
  6. Holding myself back from growing as a Leader and human being.

Upon reflection, I realized I was doing a disservice to this individual (and to our relationship) by accepting their response when I shared the feedback and not being fully clear with my intentions.

In Kim Scott’s transforming experience, and what inspired her to create the concept of Radical Candor, her boss then at Google Sheryl Sandberg, currently COO of Facebook, had to repeat the feedback in a more clear and candid way so that it would be received by Kim. It wasn’t until Sheryl told Kim that she sounded stupid in her presentation that Kim started to listen. Read more about the story here.

In a recent panel interview with Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, she stated that women don’t help women enough in the workplace. She shared a real life example on her experience of how men share and receive feedback differently compared to women. Women receive feedback from other women as if something is wrong rather than receiving it and taking it as a learning opportunity. Clickhere for the video.

In summary, I was not loving the individual completely, which means not being afraid to be direct with feedback that will support their growth and development as a human being, and as a result, build a more trusting relationship.

Wouldn’t I want to receive the same feedback and grow our relationship as well?

Yes, of course! We can still be caring and loving and share it in a way that will support the people in our lives.

Having Radical Candor is needed even more in the workplace where we tend to hold back fearing the loss of trust, the connection and relationship, or even worse, losing our jobs or the people on our team. These are all fear-based thoughts…F-false E-evidence A-appearing R-real.

Let’s remember the long term impact of not caring for our team members. When done right, Radical Candor will support everyone.

Here are 5 simple steps to have a successful and purposeful courageous conversation:

STEP 1: Set your intention. Do this by answering these questions: (1) How will this feedback support the individual to grow?, (2) What kind of experience do I want to create for the both of us?, (3) What energy will I bring to elevate the experience?, (4) How can I share the feedback with Radical Candor?

STEP 2: Create the space. Ensure that when you have this courageous conversation, that you and the individual are ready and open. Check in with yourself that you’re grounded in the questions from STEP 1. Remove any distractions and create a warm environment for you and the individual to have a meaningful human connection.

STEP 3: Courageously use Radical Candor to love this individual. Share your intentions to care and be direct at the same time. Listen and be mindful to the “push back” or notice when the words are not being received and continue on with your Radical Candor. It will feel uncomfortable and you will feel a sense of wanting to rescue and avoid conflict. Remember the implications above (and write them down for reference if needed) and continue to love.

STEP 4: Reflect and journal on your experience. Do this by answering these questions: (1) What worked well?, (2) What was tricky?, (3) What would I do differently next time?, (4) What is my biggest learning from this experience?, (5) How can I apply the learning today?

STEP 5: Seek another opportunity where you are holding back on having courageous conversations. To strengthen your confidence with Radical Candor, you must keep practicing. The more moments you create to care more, the more capacity and capability you will have to lead with love.

I’m back on the love train and look forward to another courageous conversation. This time, coming from a place of Radical Candor, and still in a loving Lorie-kind-of-way. #chooselove

Where in your life can you have Radical Candor?

I would love to hear how your experience went. Share in the comments below and connect with me today!

Lorie Corcuera